Wednesday, January 2

Moving On Up! (Jeffersons)



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Thursday, December 27

Let's Start the New Year Right (Bing Crosby)

We've done 'Rejuvenate,' 'Experience,' and 'Joy,' but our Word of the Year for 2019 is 'Grace.'

Revisiting Past Words
What lessons have I learned?
  • Saying 'no' may upset people, but it really frees you up to devote yourself to the things you've already said 'yes' to.
  • Finding joy in simple things, and practicing finding it, helps you to re-center.
  • Saying 'yes' to life is sometimes as simple as putting down your phone.  
Favorite books for life lessons?
My favorites are the "365 Devotions for..." series.  The readings are short and I keep one of them on the toilet tank each year.  I know...I know...but that's when I usually get thirty seconds of peace!

'Grace' is our word of the year because it's time we (that's the universal we, myself included) learned to extend grace to both ourselves and those around us.  This may include loved ones, sometimes friends, or those we deem 'enemies.'  Grace is simply a matter of doling out kindness, even if you don't think it is deserved...

Some ways you can extend grace to others today :
  • Hold the door or help carry items
  • Extend a smile or compliment to those you meet
  • Respond to the verbal bully with a nice word (you just might be surprised!)
  • Don't react via text or social media
  • Visit with someone who is having a tough time
  • Accept apologies - Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to forget (ie, open yourself up to future hurts), but it will help you heal inside
  • Apologize and ask for forgiveness when you have wronged another
One caveat : grace doesn't mean giving a free pass, however.  We can call others, and ourselves, on 'junk' without doing it unkindly.  

When you learn to love yourself
You will dissolve all the stones that are cast
Now you will learn to burn the icing sky
To melt the waxen mask
I said to have the gift of true release
This is a peace that will take you higher
~Indigo Girls "Strange Fire"

Here are some of my favorite books to start at the new year.  We read one together as a family, and I usually have a different one for personal use.  Do you have a good one to add to this list? Comment below!

Thursday, December 20

Music (Joss Stone)


Sometimes, we just need a vacation!  Usually, those are when we head home, or go to the beach, but this time we headed to Branson, Missouri for a few days of music appreciation....
 At the Legends in Concert, we got to listen to the musical stylings of The Blues Brothers (family favorite), Elvis (Grandma's favorite), Elton John, Wynonna Judd, and Barry White (not a 'family' act, unless you're trying to create said family).  If you've never seen hundreds of Grandmas clawing over each other to get an Elvis-impersonator's sweaty scarf.....well, it's a funny sight to behold!  Although we were, by far, the youngest in the crowd, it was still a lot of fun! 
 We goofed around with the Blues Brothers (and got the weirdest family Christmas photo), hung out with Elton John a bit, and waited in line behind all the other Grandmas to get to kiss Elvis!  (Well, only one of us did that...and t'weren't me.)
 Some other trip highlights included a trip to the Military Museum and goofing off with Grandpa...

...getting to play roles in the interactive Murder Mystery Dinner Theater (yes, I'm laughing...I got to play the 'suffering married woman,' and it was hilarious!) and touring the Titanic Museum.  The Titanic Museum was pretty awesome, but they don't allow any photography inside, so you'll just have to take our word for it and go visit sometime...
 While some of us took time out for downtime, others popped into a late night Creedence Clearwater Revival show and even got to go backstage and hang out with the band!!

Though only three days long, it's a trip that won't soon be forgotten.  It opened several doors to future outings, allowed us some one-on-one time with each of the kids, which doesn't always happen, and offered a little bit of rest and relaxation!

Wednesday, December 19

Here Comes Santa Claus (Gene Autry)

            
As kids, we used to gather around the television on Christmas Eve and watch the regular updates about where in the world Santa Claus was at that moment.  It helped break up the monotony of endless adult conversations and cheek-pinching, and increased the anticipation of Christmas morning all that much more!

These days, our children don't have to wait until the night prior....they can go online and see what's going on in Santa's Workshop during the month of December, write him a short note, play games, and more. 

Both Santa Tracker and NORAD (the original Santa tracker) spend Christmas Eve posting his whereabouts online for kids to follow, and our children have enjoyed keeping this (albeit changed) tradition alive.    (As an aside, do they even do this on TV anymore?)

How it Began
Do you know how NORAD, a military group, even got started with tracking Santa Claus for us?  I'm going to let Mike Rowe fill you in on this funny and heart-warming story....

NORAD Vs. Santa Tracker
The NORAD site is the most useful on Christmas Eve itself, so our children spend a lot of time on the Santa Tracker site for the weeks leading up to the date.  However, on Christmas Eve (and accessible for a few days afterward), NORAD has done a great job with video shorts that introduce your children to landmarks and Christmas traditions from around the world!

While the kids really enjoy the Santa's Village part of Santa Tracker, where they can play games, build gifts, code Santa's computer, and more, my favorite feature of this site is the Educators' Page!   THIS is where the learning happens.  

Actually, that computer coding thing may be in the Educators' section...but it's also where there are geography games, history lessons, and videos.  Each day in December, we set aside a small chunk of time for playing on this site, and the kids have learned a lot about world geography just by playing.  I think we all learn best when we think we're not really learning...  πŸ˜‰

There are physical and political maps to play with and fly over.  On the political maps, you can learn about the climate, geography, and history of each country.  (Not every country in the world is included, but there are quite a few.)

We figured that Santa's Workshop is closest to Finland...which also happens to be where part of our family hails from...so we spent a little more time than usual checking it out.
For a more detailed comparison of the two sites, read here.  If you're looking for a fun way to incorporate Christmas into learning, these are great sites for children of all ages....from one to ninety-two!    Personally, my heart lies with the NORAD site, if only for the sake of sentimentality.  Merry Christmas!πŸŽ…πŸ€ΆπŸŽ„
Today is the last day in our Twelve Days of Giveaways!  Be sure to go back and enter them all.  Merry Christmas!

One reader will win a box of "If You Were Me and Lived In..." books, by Carole P. Roman!

Entry-Form

Tuesday, December 18

Candy Cane Lane (Sia)


In addition to making Candy Cane Platters, another fun way to use these candies is arts and crafts!


Today we're making :
  • Ornaments
  • Reindeer
  • Wreath


Ornaments
Traditionally, we make these Cinnamon-Applesauce Ornaments, but decided to try something different this year and go with peppermint ornaments.  We had some mints leftover from the candy cane platters, and decided to make a go on ornaments, too!

You'll Need...
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Spray the entire insides of the cookie cutters.  This will prevent the mints from sticking and breaking your creation.
  3. Place the candies inside the cookie cutters.  Don't worry if it doesn't line up exactly; they will melt into place.
  4. Bake for 5-8 minutes, pulling pans out when they have melted into each other.
  5. While it is still hot, use the skewer stick to make a nice hole at the top of the ornament (while they are still in the cookie cutters...just wiggle it a bit) large enough to poke the ribbon through.
  6. Let cool completely, then gently remove from shell.
  7. Thread ribbon through the hole, hang up, and admire!

Reindeer
An oven-free activity, this is one that is perfect for younger children!

You'll Need...
Directions
  1. Wrap pipe cleaner around the bridge of candy cane (start in the middle of the pipe cleaner), and twist the ends to make antlers.
  2. Glue googly eyes to the face.
  3. Glue an M&M for the red nose.
  4. Tie a bow with the ribbon (an adult may need to do this), and glue to front of candy cane.  (You can also try these pre-tied ones.)

Wreath

You'll Need...
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Spray the entire insides of the pan.  This will prevent the mints from sticking and breaking your creation.
  3. Place the candies around the inside perimeter of the pan so that they are touching, but leave the middle open.
  4. Bake for 5-8 minutes, removing when mints have melted into each other.
  5. While it is still hot, use the skewer stick to make a nice hole at the top of the wreath (while it is still in the pan...just wiggle it a bit) large enough to poke the ribbon through.
  6. Let cool completely, then gently remove from shell.
  7. Thread ribbon through the hole, hang up, and admire!
Two winners will win a set of Christmas Jamberries to get into the holiday spirit!  There are two chances to win!

Friday, December 14

Kissin' By the Mistletoe (Aretha Franklin)


With the holidays often comes scratchy throats and runny noses.....I'm not sure if it's the travelling, the added stress, or just all that 'togetherness' that brings it on.  Or maybe you picked up something funky just from being underneath the mistletoe at the wrong time!

No matter...around here, we try to tackle it with an ounce of prevention first, and then treat it with some natural remedies if that doesn't work.
DIY Herbal Throat Spray
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey (Please remember that honey should not be given to children under a year old.)
  • 1 Tbsp warm water
  • 1/8 tsp peppermint extract (or 1 drop peppermint essential oil)
  • 2 oz glass spray bottle
  • 2 Tbsp total of herbal tincture – optional : see more details below
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together.  Pour into glass spray bottle.
  2. Spray into back of mouth, as needed. 
    • If sore throat persists for more than a week, contact a doctor.
    • When made with tinctures, this throat spray will last for months.  Store in refrigerator to lengthen life.
In addition to your base, you can add one of these herbs to your spray :
  • Echinacea – helps to boost immune system
  • Thyme – go-to respiratory herb, for bronchitis or infection
  • Elderberry –  an antiviral which also protects against flu
  • Ashwaganda – helps the body cope with stressors
  • Astragalus – helps with stress and boosts immune system
  • Lemon Balm – antiviral that protects against cold sores
  • Ginger – warming antibiotic
Check each herb beforehand to make sure that it’s not contraindicated for your personal health.


Want more natural remedies? 


Two winners will receive an autographed copy of Moms' Night Out, by Tricia Goyer - guaranteed to put a smile on the homeschool mom's face!  There are two chances to win!  


Thursday, December 13

Candy Cane Christmas (Darius Rucker)


Kick up the hostess game a notch with these inexpensive, and easy-to-make, candy cane serving platters!


These cost very little and look so cute -- plus they take barely any time to make.  An older child could easily whip up a few for you (the younger ones could too, except for the oven).  When the party's over...break off a chunk and enjoy the peppermint!

One caveat -- you may want to avoid placing very hot items on the platters, in the event that they could melt a bit and give it (just-out-of-the-oven-HOT brownies??) a peppermint-y taste.

You'll Need....

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350ΒΊ F.
  2. Spray pan and parchment paper that lines pan.  This is to keep your platter from sticking and breaking upon removal.
  3. Arrange peppermints in the pan, touching and extending out to the edges of pan.
  4. Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until peppermints have just melted into one another.
  5. Remove from oven.  Let cool completely before releasing sides of pan.
  6. Load up with goodies to serve!

Two winners will win a set of Christmas Jamberries to get into the holiday spirit!  There are two chances to win!

Wednesday, December 12

Purple Snowflakes (Marvin Gaye)



Today, we're serving up a little bit of humor to brighten your holiday season!!



Classic Cartoons



Christmas Carols

More Cartoons



Kid Pics

Psychologist Humor

Remember..............SMILES ARE FREE -- and they're a great gift!

Two winners will receive an autographed copy of Moms' Night Out, by Tricia Goyer - guaranteed to put a smile on the homeschool mom's face!  There are two chances to win!